Monday, July 25, 2016

Five Best Practices for a Seamless Customer Experience




Lisa Bullen-Austin

National Director for 2-1-1 Strategic Enhancements
and Disaster Recovery

United Way Worldwide





Whether your organization is focused on the federal, corporate or non-profit arena, your customers expect a seamless experience when they interact with you. Across every industry, customers and clients want to be treated with respect, intelligence and empathy….with a technological infrastructure that supports that. So, why not empower your customer service team to implement and follow these best practices for an exceptional, end-to-end customer experience?

  1. Meet customers where they are – The world of social services is complex and challenging to navigate. There are lots of eligibility requirements and criteria and acronyms. Make sure you choose your language and choice of words to meet your clients where they are. If they are new to finding help in the health and human services or social services arena, always refer to their basic need but be mindful to never assume the client knows more or knows less. Ask if they would like to provide an overview, or if they are comfortable going ahead without it. Constantly check for understanding and look for queues that indicate that they need more or less support or information.

  2. No wrong door – It is important to have subject matter experts and skill based routing, but it is equally as important to have some basic cross training across the business. This is helpful for unanticipated spikes in attrition and also for spikes in volume that were not forecast.. When transferring the call to the SME, make sure to share the client’s story to the new agent, use systems that allow necessary information to be transferred or accessed easily beyond the initial intake. No one likes having to repeat themselves. If someone has to repeat their story, they are left with the impression they originally entered the “wrong door.”

  3. Voice of the customer – At the end of the day, you have a business to run or a service to provide. Your Quality Assurance scorecard needs to include things that optimize the operations, so AHT and ATT are very important. Scorecards also need to include indicators that measure the voice of the customer. Aside from the business needs, one must balance the customer needs. Did the customer feel supported and listened to or did they feel rushed off the phone? Did the agent ask permission before placing the caller on hold? Did they validate the client by paraphrasing and seeking to ensure they understood the client? Did they confirm that the client understands how you are going to help them? Most importantly, does the client have a sense of resolution or feel empowered to continue toward a resolution. Make sure to coach staff to always be in the shoes of the client at all times.

  4. Data Analytics – Anticipate trends and needs. There is lots of data at your fingertips and it is important to use it to your advantage. Learn and anticipate your client’s needs. Layer your data with external data sources. What does the data tell you? Do you need to look at new verticals or avenues of services? Do you need to look for new funding streams to better position your organization in meeting the needs of the clients? Most importantly your clients will appreciate you anticipating their needs and being proactive in your services to them.

  5. Client experience starts the moment they initiate contact - Customers form their impression of service through multiple interactions with an organization.  Is your IVR simple to understand and use for your client base?  Is the voice recording reflective of your organization or is it mechanical?  Does your technology address all your clients or is it geared only to millennials? A client’s overall satisfaction or lack of satisfaction will come from their overall experience in using your services both technology and human. Don’t focus only on the agent, focus on the technology as well. It is important to manage the overall end-to-end experience.

Lisa Bullen-Austin is the National Director for 2-1-1 Strategic Enhancements and Disaster Recovery at United Way Worldwide. United Way Worldwide (UWW) is the national leadership organization for the U.S. network of 1,200 state and local United Way community organizations that serve as conveners, collaborators and leaders of collective impact in their communities.  For the last six years, Lisa has lead the 2-1-1 network establishing best practices, implementing KPI’s and securing nationwide opportunities on behalf of the U.S. network.  As the National Director, Lisa leverages the capabilities and capacity of many 2-1-1 organizations to provide a single platform and nationwide access to those in need.

Lisa has an extensive background in business re-engineering and over 15 years of experience designing and implementing Service Delivery Strategies in the federal, corporate and nonprofit arenas.  Additionally, Lisa has 20 years’ experience in Contact Center Program Management and holds BA Degree from York University.

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